Everlasting Moments (Sweden 2008, 131 min. ¬†dir: Jan Troell, cast: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen, Callin Ohrvall).
The passing of any technology leaves a mystery we do not question. Canals became railroads. Carriages became autos. Sewing machines became lazar stitchers. Photography becames digital imaging. Everlasting Moments is a time capsule for the magic age of film cameras.
Jan Troell creates a time of wonder where a simple black and white photo could release humans from the drudgery of their lives and lets them dream. Maria (Maria Heiskanen) is the working class wife of the drunken, brutish, but charming Sigge (Mikael Persbandt). Continually pregnant, working every waking hour as a seamstress, she finds a long forgotten camera tucked in a drawer. Her first instinct is to sell it.
But Sebastian (Jesper Christensen), the romantic who runs the photography store, suggests that she first try taking some picture. Maria’s fascination starts when Sebastian takes the camera lens and focuses the flutter of a butterfly on her hand. He introduces her the solemnity of the darkroom, and supplies her with film chemicals to try it for herself.
The yearning for passion in these two is redirected to their silent, side-by-side witness of the alchemy of the developer’s potion. The red darkroom light casts a sensual glow over them as they watch images emerge from nowhere.It is these scenes, and the simple, artful pictures from Maria’s camera that explain the mystery of film and photograph.
No historical treatise, no factual documentary can ever get as close as Everlasting Moments to giving us a sense of what it was like to experience technology past. And no modern photographer working with digital cameras and printers can understand the delight of those silent, dark hours alone in a small red-lit room with smelly chemicals and a pair of tongs.
The only sound in the darkroom is the rhythm of the rocking tray as developer sloshes back and forth over a piece of paper. Whiffs of black began to darken into clouds and then become a face, a tree, a cat: a special moment of life memory. These are the Everlasting Moments.